George Russell has revealed he thought a Q2 elimination was on the cards after finishing fifth fastest in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver narrowly advanced into the top 10 as he finished the second segment of qualifying ninth, ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, having run off-strategy tyre wise.
Russell had struggled to match the pace of teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout the day but was able to recover in Q3 to finish fifth, two places down on the seven-time World Champion but ahead of Max Verstappen with the Red Bull driver having had his best effort deleted for a track limit infringement.
“For me, it's been a really challenging day,” said Russell.
“I’ve been off the pace, I don’t really know why. I've been feeling quite good and with the update, we can feel the improvement.
“But it's been a bit of a strange day for me so I'm actually pretty pleased with P5 because at some points it was looking likely we may not even go through to Q3.
“P5 is a great place to start on Sunday and when it was looking likely at points we could’ve been much further down the order, I’m pretty satisfied with that.”
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Russell confident over Sprint chances
Russell and the rest of the F1 field will tackle the Sprint Shootout before the subsequent 100km 'race' and remaining hopeful that he can build on his performance so far, the Briton added: "Sprint qualifyings tend to go better for us than they do on the Friday evenings - bar Qatar.
“We’ll go from there, I will take it on my shoulders, I’ve just been off the pace and struggling to understand why but Q3 was a reasonable lap.
“I made a bit of a mistake at Turn 1 which probably cost me one more position on the grid.”